Digital Marketing and IT: The Moment Has Come To Work Together

Digital Marketing

Mar­ket­ing inevitably con­tin­ues its meta­mor­pho­sis into dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing and, con­se­quent­ly, adopts new tech­nol­o­gy. Its appli­ca­tion port­fo­lio is fill­ing out, neces­si­tat­ing a larg­er inte­gra­tion to opti­mize its effec­tive­ness. In order to con­tin­ue evolv­ing, dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing needs to be able to count on an IT depart­ment that antic­i­pates its needs, advis­es it in its choic­es, and pro­vides it with suit­able infra­struc­tures.

Mar­ket­ing and IT: Incom­pre­hen­sion. Forced to ven­ture out on dig­i­tal ter­rain under the pres­sure from inno­v­a­tive start-up and web giants, com­pa­nies learned at their expense that they have to mod­ern­ize their mar­ket­ing by tak­ing advan­tage of dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy. The cus­tomer jour­ney is now lined with mul­ti­ple touch­points. Each rep­re­sents an oppor­tu­ni­ty for the brand to com­mu­ni­cate per­son­al­ly with the cus­tomer in real time and there­fore dis­play rel­e­vant con­tent, sug­gest prod­ucts, make spe­cial offers, and enrich the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. Dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing is becom­ing addict­ed to data and new tech­nol­o­gy. This evo­lu­tion should have been favor­ably received by the IT depart­ment if it had, first­ly, antic­i­pat­ed the change and, sec­ond­ly, had fin­ished mod­ern­iz­ing its own data cen­ters.   Both absorbed with their own trans­for­ma­tion agen­das, mar­ket­ing and IT failed to coor­di­nate their objec­tives at the time. The split was com­plete.

Mar­ket­ing depart­ments were seduced by the appar­ent sim­plic­i­ty of the Cloud. Cam­paign automa­tion, con­tent man­age­ment, data man­age­ment plat­form (DMP), rec­om­men­da­tion engine, vir­tu­al advis­er (chat­bot)… Mar­ket­ing is fast becom­ing dig­i­tal and can­not accept delays that are incom­pat­i­ble with its demands. In these con­di­tions, it is dif­fi­cult not to suc­cumb to the charms of the Cloud: a wide selec­tion of soft­ware that is imme­di­ate­ly avail­able as SaaS (Soft­ware as a Ser­vice) and a pro­gres­sive invest­ment that is not over­bur­dened with heavy phys­i­cal infra­struc­tures. Between wait­ing for the IT depart­ment to be ready and a solu­tion avail­able in the Cloud, the choice was made quick­ly and result­ed in the emer­gence of shad­ow IT, escap­ing the IT department’s con­trol. It may be regret­table, but it was an answer to the urgent need of that moment. There is no choice but to accept that dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing con­tributes in an increas­ing­ly per­cep­ti­ble man­ner to the com­mer­cial suc­cess of a com­pa­ny like Ama­zon, where approx­i­mate­ly 30% of its rev­enue comes from its rec­om­men­da­tion engine. The price of suc­cess is that mar­ket­ing apps have to, in turn, meet oper­a­tional require­ments. Dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing becomes more tech­ni­cal and requires new skills that over­lap with those of the IT depart­ment. It is undoubt­ed­ly time to rec­on­cile mar­ket­ing and IT depart­ments.

Dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing does not con­sist of stack­ing tech­nolo­gies and apps. Numer­ous IT depart­ments ini­ti­at­ed their trans­for­ma­tion and inte­grat­ed the Cloud in their devel­op­ment strat­e­gy. It is no longer pri­vate cloud ver­sus pub­lic cloud; the time has come for hybridiza­tion. The DevOps (Devel­op­ment Oper­a­tions) approach­es favor con­tin­u­ous improve­ment of apps with­out evad­ing oper­a­tional require­ments. The lessons of dig­i­tal are start­ing to pay off, and the agili­ty sought is pro­gres­sive­ly trans­lat­ing into ser­vices offered by IT. Thus, it is no longer impos­si­ble to rec­on­cile inno­va­tion and indus­tri­al­iza­tion – quite the con­trary. Con­di­tions have come togeth­er so that mar­ket­ing and IT have every­thing to gain by col­lab­o­rat­ing. Mar­ket solu­tions in the pub­lic cloud or per­son­al­ized solu­tions in a pri­vate cloud? The answer is not so bina­ry. In cer­tain cas­es, apps devel­oped in a pri­vate cloud will inter­act via APIs (Appli­ca­tion Pro­gram­ming Inter­faces) that have soft­ware com­po­nents in a pub­lic cloud. The IT depart­ment must ensure that mar­ket­ing apps, just like busi­ness apps, are inte­grat­ed into a coher­ent set that com­plies with the company’s strate­gic objec­tives as well as the oper­a­tional require­ments con­cern­ing per­for­mance, avail­abil­i­ty, secu­ri­ty, and devel­op­ment. IT needs to help mar­ket­ing ear­ly on with its deci­sions by offer­ing val­i­da­tion, qual­i­fi­ca­tion, or ref­er­enc­ing process­es, or even a por­tal with a cat­a­log of solu­tions and ser­vices. Avoid cre­at­ing new tech­nol­o­gy silos with­in the com­pa­ny that will end up lead­ing to com­pli­ca­tions.

Data should rec­on­cile mar­ket­ing and IT. Beyond apps and infra­struc­tures, data is at the heart of the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. Dig­i­tal has changed our idea of cus­tomer knowl­edge. It has become dynam­ic and con­tex­tu­al. It is enriched by mul­ti­ple data sources inside and out­side the com­pa­ny and takes into account the numer­ous dig­i­tal traces that Inter­net users leave in their wake. The pre­ci­sion of the seg­men­ta­tion, tar­get­ing, and pre­dic­tive mar­ket­ing will depend on the quan­ti­ty and qual­i­ty of the data. Giv­en its exper­tise, the IT depart­ment has an essen­tial role in imple­ment­ing the tech­ni­cal plat­form for col­lect­ing and rec­on­cil­ing data in a con­sol­i­dat­ed view that can be accessed using any mar­ket­ing app. These tech­ni­cal archi­tec­tures require the exper­tise of infra­struc­ture spe­cial­ists. They must be designed to adapt to the nature of the – often unstruc­tured – data (text, images, audio, video, etc.) and to evolve at an unin­ter­rupt­ed growth rate.

The com­pa­ny is data dri­ven. Mar­ket­ing per­fect­ly illus­trates the impor­tance of data’s role, but it’s actu­al­ly the entire com­pa­ny and the entire econ­o­my that depend on the pool­ing and shar­ing of these data repos­i­to­ries. Who bet­ter to tack­le this task than IT? Let’s also not for­get that, in May 2018, all com­pa­nies will have to com­ply with the Euro­pean Gen­er­al Data Pro­tec­tion Reg­u­la­tion (GDPR). It is there­fore time to bring order to data.

Digital Marketing
Eric Debray

Posted on 02-06-2017

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